The Dread of Flash Pop Horror


Flash Pop Horror is a very pretentious fancy film critic term that I just made up right now (while intoxicated on various household chemicals) to describe a certain type of horror film that is appearing to become a very discerning trend.  Flash Pop Horror are a type of horror film that are release by a major studio simply to make a quick buck at the box office.  You may be thinking sure, that’s what movie studios do:  they put out movies in order to make money.  Well yes of course, but the Flash Pop Horror subgenre that I am speaking of is a different breed of horror film.  The films I will be mentioning and discussing appear to have the absolute minimal effort applied to them from every single above the line person in the credits.  Few, if any stars appear in these films while they take on a tone of laziness, unoriginality, and pandering to the lowest common denominator.  Let’s start with an example.

The first exhibit in the spewing fourth of words from my thought brain is The Haunting of Molly Hartley.  Although sounding like a mix between a remake and a horrible Three Stooges adventure, The Haunting of Molly Hartley oozes laziness out of every single pore.  Now, don’t get me wrong here, I’m not saying that anyone involved in the making of the film is necessarily lazy, I’m just saying that the film brings about a certain air of “Yeah, we ain’t trying with this one” vibe to it.  It feels like the movie is just going through motions, like it was following some sort of teen movie blueprint.  Pretty Girls: Check.  Hunky High school Guys: Check.  Jump Scare Moments: check.  Some weird Freaky stuff: check.  At that point the producers turned to each other wondering how it’s possible that the movie isn’t going to print its own money.

Guess what, it tanked.  It didn’t flop on such a massive scale like Waterworld did, but after being made for 5 million dollars, they expected to see a bigger return that 15 million worldwide.  It sure as hell wasn’t from a lack of marketing, since web site ads as well as commercials ran for a solid two weeks before it’s release.  The movie was aimed at young to mid teens in High School who are looking for a good fun time at the movies.  That same audience, you know, the ones with cell phones, constant friend interaction at school all day, and completely connected to the internet?  Yeah those were the ones that made for a slow but respectable opening weekend, then word of mouth spread that the movie was horrible.   It died after the first weekend, but I’m digressing a bit.

The movie itself felt so manufactured and watered down that it’s hard to believe a script with this many problems ever got green lit.  With the Haunting of Molly Hartley and movies like Solstice and My Soul to Take, it appears that at some point during production, too many hands got into the cookie jar.  For all intents and purposes, these scripts all probably started off as good and creepy original ideas in horror films, but they were watered down and generalized by replacing new and original ideas with tired and true moneymakers.  “So what if it doesn’t make narrative sense if the best friend dies” said the talentless producer; “She’s hot and I want to see her live until the end”.  That of course is a fictional scenario (I hope, probably isn’t though) but you get the point.  Too much meddling and pandering is what leads to a boring and generic product.

The stigma of the Flash Pop Horror name is attached to films that put money so far ahead of material that it’s a surprise that they even hired creative people to be a part of the project.  It’s not about just demonizing all PG 13 horror movies, after all Drag Me to Hell was a good film, and even if you didn’t care for it at all, it was easy to tell throughout the entire film that not just the director, but everyone involved with the project wanted to make the best film possible.  They wanted something that they could be proud of, not just a paycheck.  With Flash Pop Horror films, that feeling is absent and replaced by a scumbag like tendency to control you.  It’s like finding out that you were part of a science experiment that you were told about after you unwillingly participated and were made to look like a fool.  You feel bad because everyone was laughing at you, but being a good sport you grin and bear it while secretly disliking the strangers who feel that picking up dollars on the ground with feces on them was part of a sociological experiment (totally not based on personal experience).

I enjoy watching movies that pull a fast one over me.  I find a lot of joy in films that expertly tell a story with twists and turns that brings me to a destination that I never saw coming.  What I don’t enjoy is a film that is so pedantic in its execution to a money making formula to the point of an assembly line production.  These are the projects that are devoid of thought, understanding, and creativity and they shouldn’t be viewed by anyone considering the answer to every single production question was “whichever decision makes more money”. 

I hope that this trend doesn’t continue, but sadly we all know that it will.  Some times of course you do see this type of film in remakes (Such as Stepfather or Prom Night) but in those instances, at least they have some respect for their fans and in no way hide that it is a complete cash grab.  The new hallow attempt at studio horror called Flash Pop Horror needs to go.  I know that these films aren’t directed to me and I’m not exactly the type of people who are going to be waiting in line to see the film, but let’s face it here, these films aren’t aimed at the movie loving public, their targeted to the bored.

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